Sometimes I think I'm running out of steam since my baking has basically halted. Part of the reason is that I want to catch up. That is- synchronize what I've baked with what I've posted in order to not forget what the breads were like.
It now seems that by the time I get to the actual post, I've completely forgotten what the bread looked like, or even tasted like. Such is the case with this one. Though I remember the bread being good- slightly dense, chewy on the outside with that slight rye taste, and just a wee bit dry, even. Though I don't remember much else.
I do think that this bread, for me at least, was not really that special since sunflower seeds are used in almost all German Breads. You can buy rolls with them, and even loaves of bread, the seeds themselves baked onto the top crust, and the crumb itself full of the yummy seeds. Whereas this one, yes, it had seeds, but it was not the chock-a-block seed-fest of Sonnenblumenkernkastenbrot (Sunflower-seed loaf bread) that you normally get here.
It's funny that this bread concludes the Sourdough chapter in the Bread Baker's Apprentice. It's another one of those with yeast in it to help the bread rise faster. I would have thought there would be a wider variety in the survey of bread that is the book, but I believe that Peter Reinhart didn't want to overwhelm any beginning bakers, some of whom would probably have had no sourdough experience to begin with.
Still, having had years of normal yeasted-bread experience under my belt, and only a few months of sourdough experience, I have to say that the Sourdough section was quite tame. Yes, you have to wait for the bread to rise on its own. Yes, sometimes you have yeast to help it along. Yes, it's like regular bread, but, really, I didn't find any real surprises, aside from the sheer enormity of the Poilâne-style Miche.
So, without further ado. Into the frying pan...
Actually, a cast-iron pan. The recipe begins with toasting sunflower seeds to unlock their flavors and aromas.
The mise en place reveals a starter (upper left) and a soaker (left). I have to admit that I actually didn't use coarse whole-rye, again, since I was hoping my whole rye flour would be coarse on its own. The specialty flour store where I get my flour has coarse-ground whole wheat flour, so I was actually expecting the whole rye to follow suit, but, alas, it was not to be.
All ingredients take a whirl in the stand mixer...
And come out in a firm blob of strengthened proteins, networked gluten, and sunflower seeds taut within the mixture. This particular dough looks like a pillow because of the stretch and folds I did during the rise.
After the first rise, the dough is shaped into a boule.
And then poked.
And prodded into a ring. The only thing about it is that the opening of the ring really should be that huge. In a fit of doubt that seizes me every now and then, I decided that the hole was way too big, and then padded back inwards.
Normally, one would use dowels to separate the sections, but I reached for the first thing that struck me, the handle of a wooden spoon. Twice for each line- pressing it down a total of eight times for four clear impressions.
So, imagine my disappointment at the risen product. The lines were pretty clearly defined, but the hole in the center had almost completely closed.
Still, I can't deny the memory of the bread being simply delicious when I ate a full third of it (as soon as it cooled, of course) with various cheeses and mustards. Now, if I could remember just how it tasted...
I'm an expat living in Berlin, Germany. I started this blog to keep track of my breads in the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge. If you have any questions about German flour, especially Type 812, or the Electrolux DLX, contact me.
Mail me at misterrios (of course, at) gmail (again, of course) dot com